"Some Christians are apt to judge of themselves, and to try themselves, by such rules or evidences as are competent only to those that are strong men in Christ, and that have grown to a high pitch of grace, of holiness, of communion with God, of spiritual enjoyments and heavenly attainments, and sweet and blessed ravishments of soul; and by hearing of these, they come to doubt the work of the blessed Spirit in them, and to perplex and disquiet their own souls with needless fears, doubts, and jealousies......
So, when considering the evidences to try and determine our spiritual and eternal estates, there are two rules for ever to be minded and remembered; and the first is this, That he that propounds evidences of grace, which are only proper for eminent Christians, and presents them as though they should belong to all true Christians, he will certainly grieve and sadden those precious lambs of Christ whom should not be grieved or saddened.
Look, as there is strong faith and a weak faith, so there are evidences that are proper to a strong faith and evidences that are proper to a weak faith. Now, he that cannot find in himself the evidences of a strong faith, he must not conclude that he has no faith; for he may have in him the evidences of a weak faith, which with time will grow. In Christ's school, house and church, there are several sorts and ranks of Christians, such as babes, children, young men, and old men; and accordingly ministers, in their preaching and writing, should sort their evidences so that babes and children may not be found bleeding, grieving, and weeping, when they should be found joying and rejoicing." Thomas Brooks
When I was a young Christian I was commonly disheartened by older Christians that made me doubt as if God had really done a work of grace in me, when compared to their "holy" conversations. It seemed as though it were almost a competition. When, with a little care and caution, they could have been great encouragement, and instead left me "bleeding, grieving, and weeping."
Photo by Nour Eddine El Ghoumari